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Opinion: How to harness the power of tidy

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Could your shop or office use some tidying up? Are you knee-deep in obsolete inventory or equipment? Do you have papers on your desk from the 1970s?

Perhaps it’s time to put your shop or office in order. In the best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” organizing consultant and author Marie Kondo suggests you, “Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go.”

In other words, rip off the bandage in one pull. Clean your space and do it all at once. If you do, you’ll only have to tidy up once.

From there on, it will just be a matter of putting things where they belong. If you limp along, taking a box at a time to the Goodwill store, you’ll not only never get it done (have you?) but you’ll miss the powerful, positive effect of the almost instant transformation.

Imagine that moment: Hours earlier, it was a hot mess, and now you are standing in a fully organized space. Only the things required to serve customers and make money remain.

Those things are in their place, at the ready to be used – and replaced as needed. The space feels open. The air smells sweeter. It’s all, well, lighter. And that hits you in the gut and the heart, and you want more of that. That’s the transformative moment that has the power to change your behaviors. Clearing clutter in bits and blobs just doesn’t do that.

And this isn’t just about you. It’s about your team.

Suppose a U.S. veteran applies for a job at your shop. This is a person who understands procedure and holding to standards. Your tip-top shop lets them know their professionalism will be supported and rewarded. You’ll be seen as a person of integrity when you share your vision and mission, when you send this message across your tidy desk in an executive-level office.

It’s also about your customers.

When they stop by your shop, your commitment to order and organization contributes to their good opinion of you. When they peer into your trucks, you appear disciplined and professional, like you know what you’re doing and you have what you need. They know to expect premium service, at premium prices. What does a mess communicate to them?

So, you have a choice. You can live with the mess. Or you can tidy up. Your office and shop doesn’t have to be glamorous. It just has to be clean and orderly.

I used to think that a chronically messy shop was the result when the owner was just too busy or distracted to address it. Sometimes that is the case, and the above strategies should suffice.

However, sometimes stuff accumulates because you can’t part with it. The emotional strings are too strong. Or there is a deeper psychological issue. You may need the help of a professional organizer. Check out the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals at

Feel like you might need even more help? You could seek the help of a therapist who specializes in hoarding.

Tidy up your shop or office, and do it all at once. Remember, you’ll never have to do this again. From this point on, you need only put things back or replace the items you use. Take it as a challenge. If you and your team can do this, you can do anything.

I’m throwing down the glove. Your task is to discard the glove or put it where gloves belong.

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at


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